Frequently Asked Tax Question Answered: How do I know if what I read about Tax Debt to the CRA is true?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions of me: How do I know if what I read on the Internet regarding debt to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is true or not?

The answer is quite clear, however, complicated at the same time.

If you owe money to the CRA and you are looking for options, suggestions, or tips on the Internet, you have to pay special attention to the “Solution” options which are advertised as if they are providing legitimate advice.

The most important thing to do is to take note of the terminology used in these ads – over and over again – because the intention of these ads and blog posts are not to help you but to achieve a high SEO (search engine optimization) ranking.  These posts are written to capitalize on the number of eyes who will read that post because of the way it was written, not because it was intended to provide help to you.

Here is an example of a fear mongering ad, disguised as an article on taxes, meant to “help” you.  I am paraphrasing the content, but the example should provide a clear clue as to the true intention of the poster.

Title: Understanding Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Tax Assessment & Arbitrary Assessments

The sample post: CRA tax assessment is when the Canada Revenue Agency conducts a review of your income taxes. The most common form of CRA tax assessment is the Notice of Assessment that is sent once the CRA has conducted a preliminary review of your tax return. There is another CRA assessment known as “arbitrary assessments.”   These assessments are also known as “notational assessments.” What this means is that, if you have not filed your taxes on time, the CRA could decide to complete and file your return for you.

Many people believe that, if you do not file your taxes, that the CRA will wait until you do file your taxes and then the CRA will penalize you by changing you penalties, fines, and interest.

This is not always true.

The CRA is able to choose to complete an arbitrary assessment in which the Canada Revenue Agency will estimate your income and the tax debt that you owe and then the CRA will charge interest on this debt as required.

The amount of tax debt that comes from a CRA arbitrary assessment will  not be as favourable to you as it would be if you completed your return yourself.

The CRA will use previous income tax statements to complete your return and will not take steps to include expenses or deductions or attempt to give you any tax breaks.

In many cases, the amount owing listed by the CRA will be very high and additional charges, penalties and interest will be charged since the assessment was late.

You will then be subject to CRA collection efforts such as a wage garnishment of up to 100% of your income, or the CRA will empty your bank account and then freeze it so you cannot use it.  They could also put a lien on your house and if you don’t pay them, sell it and keep the proceeds.

What do you do if you Receive a Notational Assessment?

If you receive an arbitrary CRA tax assessment, your options are;

  1. Pay the amount listed
  2. File an appeal of the assessment.
  3. You can also choose to file a return yourself at this point in an attempt to reduce your tax bill, but, this will trigger a CRA audit to ensure that your tax return is filed correctly.

In addition, if the CRA does not have the information it needs in order to complete an arbitrary assessment, it can take you to court where the court can order that you complete the return and pay a court fine.

If you ignore this court order, you could be subject to contempt of court charges and go to jail.

As you can see, your best option is to contact us, and we will help solve this problem.  We have an army of former CRA staff at our disposal who deal with hundreds of these daily.

Let us help keep you out of jail and away from the prying eyes of the CRA.

 

WHEW.

After reading this, if you were not afraid of the CRA, you must be by now.  This blog post started out trying to get people looking for CRA tax solutions and slowly wound its way through a series of lies and mis-truths and took the reader straight to audit and jail.  It just stopped short of proclaiming that King Tax Man was going to descend from the clouds and throw tennis sized hail-balls at you.

This type of article is not good.  It’s not accurate, heck, some of it is not even true.  But how would you know?

What are the red flags that you should notice?

Let’s break down this article and address some of the “facts”.

First paragraph – mentions of CRA, or Canada Revenue Agency – 5 times.  This is their SEO target, clearly.

I was also alarmed that the writer was unable (or unwilling) to state what a Notice of Assessment (NOA) is, and how the CRA actually issues them.  To set the record straight, a Notice of Assessment is the computer generated form which is issued once a change occurs on someone’s tax account.  This NOA carries with it a legal warning from which the CRA are able to take collections actions.

An additional lie occurred when the author stated that your tax return is looked over once it is filed.  In truth, no one has reviewed your tax return.  The data entry group take the paper-filed returns and just enter the information in the system.  Electronically filed tax returns are run through a program aimed at identifying any obvious errors or inaccurate deductions taken.

There is the idd case where the CRA will flag and wait for your tax return, however try not filing for 20-years and being under audit regularly, and then you can get to that level.

Canada’s tax system is a self-reporting system so the information is accepted as filed, and the Audit, or Verification department are responsible for checking the information to make sure it is correct after the fact.

Another HUGE issue, is that there is a significant difference between an arbitrary assessment and a notional assessment.

Arbitrary assessments are issued for personal (T1) taxes and occur when the CRA’s non-filer group, or a CRA collector takes information on your personal tax account for that current year, plus previous years and prepare the unfiled tax return for you, less deductions.

In many cases, they are pretty accurate.

A notional assessment is specific to GST/HST and in these cases the non-filer unit or the collections unit will assess an amount owing for each period outstanding based on a suggested amount the system provides.  That suggested amount is a combination of the previous filings, and the industry or SIC code that is associated to your file.

In both cases, returns can be filed and the assessments removed, however, Notices of Objection should be attached just to provide recourse should the filings not be accepted.

Filing the missing returns does not trigger an audit.

The whole piece about the CRA taking you to court, etc., makes absolutely no sense as it’s not even true.  Arbs and Notionals are based on information in the CRA’s systems.  If the CRA doesn’t have information, they can still raise an assessment.

I suspect the writer was just trying to close out the reasons for using them by tieing in the jail / court fine, for not complying.  It’s not true at all, but it makes for a compelling story!

If the intention of the article was to really assist Taxpayers and let each and every Canadian decide if they want to pay for assistance / expertise, then all they had to do was discuss prosecution which is what the CRA can and will do if repeated attempts to file have been issued from the CRA (Demand to File) and have not produced the returns.

Maybe they didn’t know that existed…

Maybe they were not aware that failing to file is a criminal offense, if the CRA asks for the returns and they are not provided.

Certainly, they did not want you to know that failing to pay is not.

If someone looked at the above post, they would panic, contact this firm, and likely be convinced to pay a lot of money for something they could likely do themselves because they don’t want to make it worse, or go to jail.

It’s hard to get the truth out there when there are people and firms distorting the facts in order to make a profit off of taxpayers lack of understanding of how the CRA works.

Additionally, if they intentionally muddled the facts in this post to scare you into using their services, what other information have they creatively adjusted?

Or, if they believe this to be the truth, then they just don’t have the experience or expertise to know better, and do you really want to use them to represent you in dealings with the CRA?

Outcome:

I questioned the author in an online social media forum.  I said, “I’ve always understood that an arbitrary assessment was specific to T1 returns and that they were actually quite accurate because most of the information used is already posted to your T1 account, whereas a notional assessment was specific to GST/HST and those figures were based on the industry or SIC code. Can you confirm this is your understanding as well?”

He never responded…

Surprised?

I’m not.

When you have CRA tax collections problems then you need the expertise of the firm with an actual former CRA tax collector.  inTAXicating Tax Services.

Visit us at http://www.inTAXicating.ca

Advertisements

CRA Acting Unusually, or Cabot Business To Be Charged With Tax Evasion

In what is either a case of the CRA acting in an unusual manner, or a business has misplayed their hand  – and is being charged with tax evasion under the Income Tax Act (ITA) and the Excise Tax Act (ETA).

Time will tell who is in the wrong.

The CBC has reported that a St. John’s car dealership and a director of the dealership, are being accused of tax evasion and making false and deceptive statements on tax returns by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The CRA filed charges under the ITA and the ETA against Cabot Ford Lincoln Sales Limited and director Frank Clarke, for the 2009-2011 taxation years.

The CRA has alleged in their court documents that Cabot Ford overstated their expenses in those 3-year by more than $240,000 in order to evade taxes owing by around $45,000 and on the GST side, they underpaid around $14,000 in GST through “false or deceptive statements” provided on their GST returns.

The director, is accused of personally evading more than $76,000 in taxes by failing to declare more than $270,000 in income over that same three-year period.

What I find really unusual, is that this case is not yet before the courts, so just by reading this, we are automatically coming to the conclusion that this company and director have done something illegal, however, that might not be true.  The director told the CBC that they are “still trying to understand everything ourselves, especially since the Canada Revenue Agency has not yet informed us of all details of the situation.”

If that is the case, having this go public is the worst case scenario for the business if the CRA’s claims turn out to be true.

On the other hand, if the CRA’s claims turn out to be false, then this would be another case where the CRA have stepped beyond their means to force an issue which was incorrect or inaccurate.

The director believes that the investigation is still underway, when he told the CBC that he [has] “been in touch with the CRA during their investigation and will continue to co-operate with them as this all moves forward.”

The charges were filed last week, and the matter is scheduled to be back at provincial court in St. John’s on March 26th.

We will be watching to see if this gets resolved ahead of time and what the long-term repercussions of this position taken by the business and by the CRA will be.

I would like to say that I would never let the CRA issue a press release about a client of mine which could do harm to their day-to-day viability – these issues can always be worked out in advance, however, not knowing all the details, it’s hard to say why this was done and who pushed for it.

If you have tax troubles with the CRA, or need them to stand down or back off, you need to contact inTAXicating Tax Services!  Visit our website at www.intaxicating.ca, or email us at info@intaxicating.ca

Former CRA Collections expertise to help resolve a CRA Collections problem.

Why inTAXicating Tax Posts Rank Higher than the CRA?

Anyone else get a lot of SEO Spam?

SEO, in case you were not aware is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, and is a marketing technique which focuses on growing the visibility of your web-site through non-paid search engine results.

To get a higher ranking website, you need a combination of good content and your site has to hit the right keywords.  Doing this will drive traffic to the website, and all of this helps the search engines know that your site needs to be shown to people searching for whatever you have written about.

It stands to reason then, that just because you created a web-site (or blog) it doesn’t mean that anyone will see it or read it.  The site has to be “indexed”, meaning that it needs to show up in search engines, and it gets indexed by having people show up and visit the site.

The more visitors, the higher the ranking.

What does SEO spam have to do with inTAXicating and the CRA?

Quite a lot, actually.

In and amongst the spam we get on our website, the majority of pitches are from SEO companies who promise to help me get this website on the “first page of Google”.

Now, I know that a lot of these inquiries are spam because they are fraudulent – trying to steal identities and money – however there are some real companies who reach out to help me improve my site’s ranking, and to those companies – and to ANY company who is going to take the time to make a pitch any company, I offer this advice.

At the very least, before you reach out, you really need to check to see that you are offering a service which they actually need?

You see, there are many inTAXicating blog posts which already come up on the first page of Google.  Some, in fact, come up first or second.  Many even come up before the Canada Revenue Agency!

So thank you for the offer to get me on the first page of Google searches.  If I was even going to consider using your services at any point in time, and you have not taken the time to see that, what less obvious things have you missed?

Business fail because they do not take the time to check their prospective client(s) out and they end up making a pitch which shows there is no attention to detail being paid.

In the meantime, if our blog posts are ranking higher on Google – and we do not promote, or pay for any ads – then you know where a large number of Canadians are going to find answers for their tax problems and to find resources to help them in their dealings with the CRA.

Even the CRA sometimes contacts us for feedback regarding the way they have written something to see if our understanding represents the message that the CRA is trying to get across.

If you, or anyone you know has a tax issue with the Canada Revenue Agency, then they need to contact us, at inTAXicating Tax Services.  We rank higher than the CRA on CRA tax matters for a reason.

Email us here: info@intaxicating.ca

 

CRA Charge 4 “Tax Protestors” in Quebec with Tax Evasion

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) have charged a quartet of “tax protesters” in Québec with tax fraud, alleging that the 4 operated a scheme which helped over 50 participants evade more than $1 million in federal income tax.

Allegations, not yet proven in court, claim that they advised 50 taxpayers to claim losses totalling more than $19 million in losses, or close to $1.08 million in federal income tax.

Pierre Cardin and Sylvain Quirion of Montreal, Jean-Marc Paquin from Laval, and Contrecoeur resident Guylaine Tremblay were arrested and released with a promise to appear, and court-imposed conditions, the CRA reported.

The CRA used this opportunity to reiterate its warning against getting involved with tax protestors, noting that Canadian courts have consistently rejected these schemes.

“For those involved in tax protester schemes, the CRA will reassess income tax, calculate interest and impose penalties,” the announcement says. “In addition, upon a conviction for tax evasion, the court may impose a fine between 50% and 200% of the tax evaded and a jail term of up to five years.”

Earlier this year, the CRA issued an alert about tax schemes claiming that, “natural people” are not subject to tax laws, because it’s not true.

“Individuals who promote such views are “tax protesters” who not only fail to report their own earnings, but they also try to convince others to engage in these illegal activities,” the CRA said in the alert.

The CRA has always kept an eye on these sorts of schemes and regularly uses the opportunity to promote situations where charges are laid, or where the court charges fraudsters in order to remind Canadians to steer clear of this type of tax evasion.

Recently, the CRA reported that, between 2006 and 2017, 75 promoters had been convicted in connection with these kinds of schemes, resulting in $7.15 million in fines and a total of 936 months of jail time.

If someone is charging you money to teach you how to pay less tax, you might want to steer clear.

If, however, you have taken part in a scam, or scheme, or if you believe that you are a “natural person” and that taxation does not apply to you, please send me an email to info@intaxicating, so we can discuss the very significant consequences which you can face.

I won’t judge you.  I’ll listen, and I’ll explain and answer questions.

 

 

 

Cobourg, Ontario Resident Sentenced by CRA for Tax Evasion.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced that, on December 4, 2017David Porter Wilson of Cobourg, Ontario, was sentenced to a fine of $97,173 after pleading guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice in Cobourg, Ontario, to two counts of income tax evasion.

In addition to the court imposed fine, Wilson will also have to pay the full amount of tax owing, plus related interest and any penalties assessed by the CRA.

A CRA investigation revealed that Wilson failed to report income that he earned as a commissioned salesperson for a marketing company, totalling $449,745 on his personal tax returns for 2006 and 2007, thereby evading federal income taxes totalling $97,173. While under investigation, Wilson left Canada, and after the charges were laid an arrest warrant was issued on September 7, 2011. Wilson did not return to Canada until August 9, 2017.

All case-specific information above was obtained from the court records.

The CRA takes tax evasion very seriously.

Tax evasion occurs when an individual or business wilfully ignores or disregards Canada’s tax laws. For example, those participating in tax evasion under-report taxable income or claim expenses that are non-deductible or overstated.

Those who do not fully comply with tax laws place an unfair burden on law-abiding taxpayers and businesses and jeopardize the integrity of Canada’s tax base.

For the five-year period of April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2017, the courts have convicted 408 taxpayers – This involved $122 million in federal tax evaded and court sentences totaling approximately $44 million in court fines and 3,103 months in jail.

If you have made an omission in your dealings with the CRA, made a tax mistake or left out details about income on your tax return, the Agency may give you a second chance to correct your tax affairs and avoid criminal prosecution.

The Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) may give you the opportunity to come forward, make things right, and have peace of mind. Disclosures that are made before the CRA launches an enforcement action such as an audit or criminal investigation may only result in you having to pay taxes owed plus interest. That being said, the VDP is currently under review. Changes were announced in the fall of 2017. More information on the VDP can be found on the CRA’s website at Canada.ca/taxes-voluntary-disclosures.

The CRA has set up a free subscription service to help Canadians stay current on the CRA’s enforcement efforts.

Associated Links

Offshore Tax Informant Program
Informant Leads Program
Voluntary Disclosures Program

Stay Connected

To receive updates on what is new at the CRA, you can:

SOURCE Canada Revenue Agency

When is the Best Time to Resolve a CRA Tax Problem?

If you live in Southern Ontario, you are in the middle of a heat wave.  Summer came back bigger, badder, stronger than it had all summer, and with humidex readings in the low 40’s, all the talk is about cooling off and extending the cottage season.  Thinking about Tax Debt with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is the last thing on your mind.

There is nothing wrong with that.

But as the calendar creeps towards October, we enter the last quarter of the year and this is traditionally the best time of year to finally seek resolution on that nagging Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) tax problem.

The tax problem that causes you so much stress that you cannot open the brown envelopes from the CRA.

The tax problem which resulted in the CRA freezing your bank account or garnishing your wages.

That nagging tax issue which prompted the CRA to register a lien against your property.

The one that prevents you from having a full night’s sleep.

Yes, that one.

Well worry no more because help is here.

No matter how big, or small, complex or simple, we have seen them all, and resolved them all.  At the very least, after a meeting with us, you will understand the truth behind your tax problem – whether you have a chance of having it overturned or whether you actually are on the hook for the balance.

After a meeting with us, you can finally start on the pathway to resolving your tax troubles and no longer worry that when you try to use your debit card it might not work because the CRA froze your bank account and withdrew all of the funds.

inTAXicating Tax Services

Contact us: info@intaxicating.ca

Toronto-based.  Canada-wide Tax Liability Specialists.

Former Calgary man sentenced to 11 years in jail and fined $550,892 for tax evasion and fraud

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced that James Harvey Cameron, a former resident of Calgary, has been sentenced to 11 years in jail and fined $550,892 after defrauding investors of over $2.5 million through a deceptive investment scheme. The judge also ordered Cameron, 66, to pay restitution of $1,831,700 to his victims.

If Mr. Cameron fails to pay his fine in six months he will have to serve an additional four years in jail for default.

From 2002-2006, Cameron operated a fraudulent RRSP scheme which promised a 2% monthly return to individual investors. The scheme raised just under $8 million, but only paid out a total of $882,000 to investors.  Cameron misappropriated the funds to support his luxurious lifestyle, including buying property, cars, a horse, and a $75,000 cruise in the Bahamas. He also transferred funds offshore to Barbados.

A Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) investigation proved that Cameron diverted $3.9 million of the investors’ funds for his own use and failed to report this as income on his tax returns, evading $1,132,882 in taxes.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that [Cameron] executed a deceptive investment scheme with subjective knowledge of the prohibited act and consequences,” said presiding judge, Justice P.R. Jeffrey, in his written reasons for convicting Cameron. “The CRA acted towards him with considerable patience, forbearance and fairness.  He was given ample opportunity to provide to CRA any plausible alternate explanation for what occurred, yet did not.”

Justice Jeffrey commented in his sentencing report: “The $1,831,700 I have ordered payable in restitution should be subtracted from his [Cameron] total taxable income… therefore I find his taxable income to have been $2,118,817.”

Cameron was convicted of tax evasion under the Income Tax Act and fraud under the Criminal Code.

Sentencing took place today at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary.

You can report suspected tax evasion to the CRA by visiting https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/programs/about-canada-revenue-agency-cra/informant-leads-program.html or by calling the National Leads Centre at 1-866-809-6841.

All case-specific information in this news release was obtained from the court records.

Did you know that between April 1, 2012, and March 31, 2017, total domestic and offshore related criminal investigations have resulted in 408 convictions involving $122 million in federal tax evaded and court sentences totaling approximately $44 million in court fines and 3,103 months in jail?